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My Friend Max

Two years ago I was about to turn 50 and wanted a present that would just be for me. I decided that I really wanted a dog because I had never had one. Also, with the kids leaving home, I needed a substitute “child” to take care of and spend time with. It had to be a small dog so our two elderly cats wouldn’t be intimidated. I found Pegasus on the website for Heaven Sent Animal Rescue and, as luck would have it, they were having an event at Pet Smart that weekend. When I walked up to the little corral where they had the dogs, Pegasus came running over to me, barking as if to say “I’m the one you’re looking for!” It was meant to be! I’m sure they had named him Pegasus for his huge ears, but that was too big of a name for a little guy so I renamed him Max. Max was scared of everything at first and hated going out for walks. But with time, patience and training, he is now fine about walking with me around the neighborhood and parks. He’s just scared of large trucks and loud noises. He and the cats have an agreement where they have their own territories in the house, so it's mostly peaceful. He’s a wonderful companion and friend, and loves his people family as much as we love him.

Albany, NY

My sweet Lilith Rose

A close friend's cat had just given birth to a litter of kittens, but sadly only two of her kitten had survived. Monster, later known as Lilith Rose and Roxy, two beautiful calicos, Lily, long haired and Roxy short hair. I was sixteen at the time and when I saw Monster, I was in love and knew she was going to be mine, I would just have to convince my mother. We had already had four rescued furbabies, Caramel, our oldest, Siberian long haired bridle, our second oldest, Lelo, half siamese bridle, Artemis, our all white ragdoll and Coletta, our shih tzu. So it took a lot of convincing to let me bring home a new kitten. At first meeting with all our fur babies, she hissed and growled at them, and she especially bullied Lelo. She even tried to take on Caramel, our queen and alpha of our little pack, that didn't last long, Lily had learned her place.

From the beginning, she knew she was mine, and she made that clear, that I was hers. In the morning, I would find her toys in front of my bedroom door, my mom had later on told me, she was bringing me her kill, showing me how happy she was, that I had saved her. As the years went on, Lily ballooned, she became a big and beautiful cat, who I loved more and more, everyday. Sadly, at 22, my oldest cat, Caramel had crossed the Rainbow bridge and later on that same night, I lost my mother to cancer. I was destroyed and I have to break up my furbabies, finding them all new homes and Lily stayed with me, I lived with my sister for a short time, before moving out on my own. Lily kept me sane, while I learned to live on my own, which was hard. It's been nearly five years, but life has gotten better, Lily is 11 now, I dread the day I lose her but I still have lots of time with her.

Rochester, NY

The Artful Dodger

4 years ago we adopted a stray, black male Labrador about 5/6 years old. He'd been mistreated by his previous owners and was incredibly timid, missing most of his front teeth and had a cauliflower ear. He was also extremely nervous around men.

On his first walk with us something spooked him and he managed to slip free and run. We spent two agonising weeks searching every possible place he could be hiding. Eventually the call came in about a dog that had been living by the side of a busy dual-carriageway and a few days later he was returned to us.

Since then I have witnessed and shared in one of the most amazing relationships and bonds between dog and human. It was my mum that signed the adoption papers, but he adopted her as much as she did him. The two of them became inseparable. He became her little shadow, following her from room to room, travelling with her in the car wherever possible, or sitting patiently by the door every time she had to leave him behind.

We called him Dodger after the Artful Dodger when we discovered he had a cheeky knack for stealing loafs of bread. Over the four years he regained his trust in people, although has always stayed a little weary of men, bought us lots of laughter, been a reassuring presence though the bad times, but his love, particularly for my mum only grew. They seemed to understand each other in a way I've not witnessed before and his devotion and loyalty to her never wavered.

Yesterday was the hardest day in which we had to say goodbye. He had been so brave and fought to stay with us for so long. We held his head and cuddled him, and told him how much we loved him. I watched my mum's heart break as she had to say goodbye to her best friend. Never have I seen a dog more deserving, grateful and appreciative of a loving forever home, we're just so sorry it couldn't have been for longer.

Jess Myers
Chichester, United Kingdom

Home at last!

We had found a dog and in searching the newspapers for someone looking for her, my daughter came across an ad in Craig’s list for a 7 month old lab/border mix. He was in danger of a neighbor’s aggressive dog trying to get through the fence to hurt him. We’d lost our 11 year old lab mix, Harley, to liver failure about 1 1/2 years before. We cried nearly every day since Harley’s passing but were hesitant to get another one too soon, trying to avoid imposing some high expectations on a new addition.

We felt it was finally time and decided to meet the owners. The puppy was so frightened, we had to leave and get McDonald’s plain hamburgers just to lure him close enough to get acquainted. We’re sure the family thought we would never return. We knew we couldn’t leave him with how excruciatingly scared he was of everything - he wouldn’t do well in the pound and that was his next destination, according to his current family.

At 7 months he had no shots, he didn’t know his name, he didn’t know how to fetch or play, he was afraid of everything, his tail had been broken at some point and he had never been around other dogs (that weren’t trying to kill him through a fence), cats or even humans, except for their immediate family. My daughter named him Memphis and he has grown to be one of the happiest, goofiest and most lovable dogs! He got all his shots, he knows how to play now, he adores my daughter’s Aussie/Healer mix and is fascinated with our 3 cats and everything they do. Memphis now knows what it’s like to be spoiled and loved - like every dog should be! You’re home at last, sweet boy!

Suzanne & Breanne
Sacramento, CA

Isn't she lovely...

This is Styxx; (named after the river in the Greek underworld, not the band, but no offense to the fans of the band) She was added to our fur baby brood about a year ago; We OF COURSE rescued her from a group in San Antonio; I have no idea of her background. She is a lovely lady. She is tiny, maybe 6-7 pounds, or perhaps she just seems tiny compared to her male Maine Coon and Rag Doll/Siamese brothers. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality. She is loving and on your lap all the time to make biscuits, but HATES being picked up. We are practicing that gently. She knows when I pick her up and then she struggles a bit, I slowly count to 3 and when I get to 3 she is released. She is starting to trust that it is ok to be picked up as she WILL be released. She seems very happy here with her people and brothers. Her dog sister died several months back at age 14. It has been lovely to have a young one around. She will never let you get lonely!

Coppell, TX

My Honey Cat

4 years ago a friend of mine begged me to take in a skinny, knotted ball of fur someone had named Tawney. She had had 5 homes in 2 short years and had been tortured by other animals and left alone in a house for weeks at a time. She was terribly neurotic. I agreed to take her in and brought her home. Once in my house I did not see her for two weeks. She did not eat because the cat food I left for her went untouched. Finally one night I heard a rustling out of a top shelf in my closet. She joined me in bed and started purring. Soon she greeted me every time I entered my bedroom and she was so sweet I had to change her name to Honey Cat. For the next year the only way anyone could visit with her was if they sat on my bed and waited for her to join us. Everybody wanted to visit with her because she was so sweet and loving. A year later she would come out of the bedroom and follow me around the house but no one else ever saw her out. Soon she got to the point where she would come out of hiding to visit once she was sure the coast was clear. My grown boys nicknamed her the squirrel because she darts around the top of the furniture and the top shelves. Now, 4 years later she is a mostly normal cat. She doesn't run away when new people walk in and she spends her time in my lap or getting attention from visitors. People always comment on how very sweet she is and she loves getting petted so much she pushes her head against your hand when you stop. I'm still the only one who is allowed to pick her up and carry her but she is almost a normal cat now. She even joins me on the porch which is out in the scary world. I can't imagine my life without her.


Cooper the Sick Kitten

My wife and daughter when to visit my mother-in-law in a nearby town. When they got there my mother-in-law had just gotten 3 kittens from my sister-in-law. The kittens were named by my daughter and her cousins. My daughter named one Cooper. He seemed lethargic and couldn't keep up playing with the other kittens. He didn't jump up when the others did and wanted to spend a lot of time cuddling. My daughter loved him immediately. My wife called me to explain about the kitten and how he felt warm to the touch. We decided to take him to the veterinarian. He had ear mites and an unknown source fever, which we got him antibiotics for. After his trip to the Vet my wife returned him to his brothers and sisters and came home the next day. She couldn't stop thinking about this sick little kitten. We decided to have her mother bring the kitten in for us to adopt, we were worried that its life as an outside cat wouldn't be good. She brought him in and we took him to our local veterinarian because the antibiotics did not seem to break the fever. For the next 4 months about we had many trips to the veterinarian. His fever would come down while treated but never stayed away. They tested for many scary cat illnesses. Each time it was heart breaking to hear they thought he had something potentially life threatening or not treatable. After a few months of this he seemed to recover. We had treated his symptoms but never found out what was wrong. The veterinarian has recently done a physical and neutering she discovered scaring in his lungs, but the cause is still unknown. A year later he is fully recovered and perfectly healthy.

Tim Bezaire
Edmonton, AB, Canada

Scotty & Emma

We've had Emma since she was a puppy and recently rescued Scotty from a man who is no longer able to give him the time and attention he needs. Scotty's previous owner is now a full time caregiver to his wife who developed Alzheimer's very quickly. Scotty has brought so much joy and laughter to our lives, even Emma who was getting a bit older (9 years old) is now a puppy herself again as they race up and down the hall chasing tennis balls!

Seattle, WA

Gentle Ben

Benny was an abused young street cat, with a hind leg broken in multiple places, when he was found by a young woman with no money and no place to keep a cat. She took him to a local vet hospital, and people pitched in. A nearby real estate office put out a “Benny box” for donations for his surgery, and a rescue group found him a foster home. After a year, though, his foster home gave up on him. At adoption events, Benny always froze in the back of his cage, trembling, and finally he was deemed “unadoptable.” When I saw an SOS on a rescue listserv, I had two elderly cats and no intention of disturbing them with a newcomer, but my heart broke.

When his original rescuer brought him over, Benny was wrapped in a towel and shaking in fear. He spent a week tunneled into a rolled-up rug, only coming out at night. Slowly, slowly, I gained his trust. Skittish but sweet, he never raised a paw or showed a claw. When my older cats passed away and I took in a litter of foster kittens, he tended to them and groomed them like a mom. Benny finally had a family.

I kept two of Benny's adored little sisters, who still snuggle with him. Benny jumps into bed with me (and them), rolls over for belly rubs and passes sunny afternoons in my tiny walled garden. He still hides from strangers and wets himself on the way to the vet, but he is otherwise a happy guy who makes my household happy. Nobody is unadoptable.

Philadelphia, PA

The Flower House kitten

This is Leeloo Lotus – who was found in an abandoned house in Detroit. The Flower House is a great art project, where a derelict home is being converted into a temporary art installation, by filling it with flowers. During one of the prep work weekends, a tiny mewing was heard coming from the wall. After a little investigating, a tiny and dirty face appeared in a hole in the wall. There was no sign of mother or any litter mates. As nobody working on the project could reasonably care for him, a call for support was put out on social media. I instantly knew I had to help, even if that was only fostering him to get his strength and size up. I already had 4 adult cats, and I’d always claimed that was my limit.

Leeloo was estimated to be about 3 weeks old, weighed less than ¾ of a pound, and needed bottle feeding for a week or two. It’s been a learning experience – I’ve lived with many cats over the years, but none so young or fragile. There have been a half dozen vet trips; he’s gone through eye infections, a bloated belly, allergies, and cat flu in just a few weeks! But now, he’s 3 months old, almost quadrupled in weight, in good health, and settling in nicely! Once he got out of quarantine in his own room, one of my adult cats completely adopted him, and now they’re pretty much inseparable.

I’m not sure if I was just deceiving myself at first, but after just a few days it was clear this was no foster – and Leeloo is happily settling into his new, permanent home. His unusual name came as his initial rescuer called him Lotus (given where he was found), and I like to name my cats after sci-fi characters - as the fifth cat, I had to go with the lead from the Fifth Element!

Jude W
Ann Arbor, MI
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